Interview with Yuri Kageyama1

Here is the interview with my friend, Yuri Kageyama, a correspondent at Associated Press. I published this post years and years ago. Now since I am not active on that site, I decided to transplant the interview here, so that I can keep track of it.

Everyone has a story to tell. After I had my first child, which is already four years ago, I decided to hear stories of those who struggled to raise a child when they had a career to pursue. With ongoing women's lowly status in workplace and low birthrate in Japan, I am interested to hear how it was a few decades ago, or how one manages right now. So I'd like to keep hearing stories of mothers (and fathers) on how to manage raising their children and pursuing a career.





It has been already almost three years since I talked to her. I had one child then. I was frustrated trying to figure out what I wanted to do and ccould do in my life as a working woman and as a mother. I am still trying to figure it out.


Q: Could you tell me about yourself, especially how you were raised and ended up to be in the journalism?


A: I went to the U.S. with my father, who was an engineer while he was studying and also while he was working for NASA. He was a rocket engineer. That’s how I started to learn English or speak in English because I was a child. When he came back to Japan, he wanted me to continue to have English skills because he was Japanese and he thought it’s a big disadvantage not to have English skills. Because he said Japanese were so smart but they were always getting the short end of the stick because of their lack of English skills. So he wanted me to be an engineer too, but with the language skills. That’s why he put me in International schools in Japan. And then when we went back to the U.S., we were back-and-forth, but every time we were in Japan, he set me into the international school. That was quite expensive and he worked for a Japanese company. But he wanted me to be a native speaker, he thought it was worth it. He did it for my sister, too. There weren’t many universities we could go to in Japan, so it was natural for me to go to school or a college in the U.S. so I went to Bryn Mawr first and I transfer to Cornell. And I got my masters at UC Berkeley. My training was in the social sciences because I was really interested in how Japanese and American cultures were different, how they were racism. I didn’t become an engineer at all. So while I was still doing the sociology as a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I also started writing. I was always doing poetry, and short stories too. So then when I was at Berkeley, that’s when my first poem was published. Also I was doing the journalism, too for local papers in San Francisco. And I was doing interviews as well. Not that fancy stuff. Then when I came back to Japan, I got a job at a newspaper. It’s not that I really wanted to be a journalist. There was just another way to make money doing writing.


Q: Did you already have your son when you got the job as a journalist in Japan?


A: I had Isaku (her son Isaku Kageyama) when I was in San Francisco. He was born in San Francisco.


Q: Did having a child prevent you in any way from getting a job?


A: I don’t think they even knew I had a child. You should never say you have a child. That’s what I think.




A: ロケット技術者だった父が留学のためにアメリカに行くことになって、一緒に行きました。そのあとNASAの仕事をする間もアメリカにいました。それが、子どもだったわたしが英語を学び、話すようになったきっかけです。父は、日本に戻っても子どもの英語力を維持したいと考えました。父は、日本人は頭がいいけれども英語ができないため貧乏くじを引いてしまう、そう考えていました。娘のわたしが将来彼のようにエンジニアになってくれればと考えていましたが、英語もしゃべれるようになって欲しいという気持ちもあったようで、わたしをインターナショナルスクールに入れたんです。 そのあとアメリカに戻り、日本とアメリカを行ったり来たりする生活になりました。日本に住むときはいつも、わたしをインターナショナルスクールに通わせました。日本の企業に勤める父にとって授業料はかなり高額でしたが、父は、娘を英語ネイティブにさせるのに授業料を払うだけの価値はあると考えました。妹にも同じことをしました。当時日本の大学に関する選択肢が少なかったため、アメリカの大学に進むのがわたしにとっては自然な流れでした。最初にブリンマー(Bryn Mawr)大学に入り、そこからコーネルに編入しました。修士号はカリフォルニア大学バークレー校(UCバークレー)で取りました。日本とアメリカの文化の違いやレイシズムについてとても興味があったので、社会学を専攻しました。 結局エンジニアにはなりませんでした。UCバークレーの大学院で社会学を学びつつ、書くことを始めました。わたしはいつも、詩や短編なども書いていました。バークレーに在籍中、最初の詩を出版しました。サンフランシスコの地元紙向けにも書いていました。インタビューもしていました。そんなきらびやかなことじゃないですが。日本に戻ったとき、新聞社での仕事が見つかりました。どうしても報道関係の仕事をしたいわけではありませんでしたが、物を書くことでお金を稼げる方法のひとつ、として捉えていました。


Q: 日本でジャーナリストとして働き始めたときには、すでに息子さんは生まれていたのですか?


A: 伊作が生まれたのは、わたしがサンフランシスコにいたときです。


Q: 子どもがいることで仕事を見つけるのが難しかったりしましたか。



A: 子持ちだということは、会社側は知らなかったんじゃないでしょうか。仕事を探すときは子どものことは絶対に言ってはいけないと思います。


To be continued